AXPONA 2011 Coverage

April 18, 2011

Here’s a provocative question: “What if they gave an audio show and nobody came?” I exaggerate of course, but I was both surprised and disappointed at how few exhibitors there were, and how poorly attended the show was. There will be an AXPONA show in New York in June. Perhaps they are transitioning the show there. Certainly, it’s a bigger market and would attract more attendees, which in turn would attract more exhibitors. The positive side was that there were no crowds so you could take your time and listen in each room without pressure.

The best part of the show was the Stereophile seminars. Michael Fremer reprised his turntable setup routine. It was a very interesting presentation, and reinforced my conclusion that going vinyl is a significant investment of time and resources. If you do decide to give vinyl at try, and want to set up your cartridge and turntable properly, be prepared to invest $500-$1000 in alignment tools, gauges, jigs, midcroscopes and software. John Atkinson did a terrific presentation on conducting and interpreting loudspeaker measurements. It made the eight hour round trip drive worth the effort.

Standard caveat: A trade show is not the best place to evaluate equipment. However, short of an audition at a dealer or in your home, both impossible for most audiophiles living outside a major metropolitan area, it is the only place to evaluate equipment. What an audition at a trade show can do, however, is identify the outliers, those components that make you sit up and take notice, either positively or negatively. Most equipment these days is excellent, so if I make no comment, you can assume everything sounded fine, just that there was no “uh oh” or “wow” moment. Also keep in mind that no component is perfect, and each of us will have different reactions to the set of compromises made by the designer; in other words, we will have preferences.

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